Job is a remarkable book that is appreciated by believers and non-believers alike. It is listed among the great works of ancient literature due to its treatment of human suffering.
Overview of the Book
Job is clearly a remarkable man. Of this, God leaves no doubt: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). Modern TV evangelists would assume that this man should be healthy, wealthy, and happy. In fact, this is precisely how Job is introduced. Quickly the theme of the book is revealed. Job’s story is not about his prosperity, but his suffering. The key question is not “Will God give those who serve Him everything they want?”, but “Is God worthy of worship regardless of what benefits might be obtained from Him?”After God calls attention to Job, Satan accuses Job of serving God only because of his prosperity. The attack is slandering God as much as Job. “No one would serve You without rewards!” is the attack. God allows Job to endure incredible suffering in response to Satan’s slander. In a very brief time period, Job will lose his family, his wealth, and his health. His suffering was financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).
After a period of mourning seven days, Job’s friends begin making mistakes. While they were silent, they comforted Job, but as soon as they spoke insinuations and accusations began to flow freely. Chapters 3-31 detail Job’s conversations with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. “This alternation of speakers occurs in three cycles, with the order of the friends being Eliphaz (chaps. 4–5, 15, 22), Bildad (chaps. 8, 18, 25), and Zophar (chaps. 11, 20—note that Zophar has no response in the third cycle). Job answers each of them in turn (chaps. 6–7, 9–10, 12–14, 16–17, 19, 21, 23–24, 26–27). Once the friends are reduced to silence, Job contrasts his former happiness (chap. 29) with his present misery (chap. 30) and utters an oath of innocence designed to force God’s hand (chap. 31).” These rounds of verbal sparring are followed by Elihu’s attack on Job’s friends and on Job himself (ch. 32-37). While admonishing Job’s other comforters turned accusers, Elihu defends God’s justice to Job.
When Job may feel that his entire life is a whirlwind, God speaks to him out of a whirlwind. It is not answers that the LORD brings. Instead Job is met with a series on unanswerable questions. Job is first asked about creation, then God’s control over creation followed by an examination of several specific creatures. God describes many detailed aspects of his creation, praising especially his creation of two large beasts, the Behemoth and Leviathan. Overwhelmed by the encounter, Job acknowledges God’s unlimited power and admits the limitations of his human knowledge. God returns Job’s health, providing him with twice as much property as before, new children, and an extremely long life.
Freedman, David Noel: The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York : Doubleday, 1996, c1992, S. 3:859